Friday, May 15, 2009

The kindness of strangers...

Despite being told repeatedly as a child about Stranger Danger (thanks, Mom!), I have more than one occasion when I've been able to count on a helping hand from someone I don't know. Whether it was something simple like a man with a cart full of groceries letting me go ahead of him when he saw my three items or something larger like a woman inviting me to her house for tea after she recovered my cell phone on a Dublin bus.

The stories I found today all center on Good Samaritanism - people helping people (they usually don't know beforehand). Stories like these definitely make you feel better about humanity and that we've staved off the apocalypse for just a little while longer. 

I've luckily never been out of a job involuntarily, but I have changed jobs frequently since leaving college. It's to the point when May rolls around, and I feel like I should start heading to I am familiar with the feeling of not knowing what to do with my time when I'm not job-hunting. Seth Reams of Portland, Ore., got laid off and had a similar feeling, and he did something productive about it. Reams started a local volunteering group called "We've Got Time to Help" that consists of other job-less folks looking for something to do that's also good for the community (

One of my friends is a fan of the TV show "Chuck." I've never been able to get into it, mainly because I always forget to watch it, but apparently it's on the bubble to be picked up for next year. The fans of the show initiated a campaign to show NBC how much they care about the show returning, but instead of some wacky scheme or online petition, one of the viewers decided to do something for charity. She created an account with the American Heart Association in the name of Chuck Bartowski, the main character. With every donation in his name, the AHA sends a thank you note to NBC for the contribution. I personally think that's genius. The network office gets flooded, and the AHA gets money (

I love local papers. They're so much more folksy (and more inclined to print good news too!). The Honolulu Advertiser recently did a feature on Frank Amorozo, a man who decided to help Oahu's homeless children by collecting books. He went onto eBay and bought 900 books. He ran into a storage snafu, but now the local United Way has partnered with him to distribute the books. Amorozo believes books are the key to learning, and he wants to give these kids a good start.

Habitat for Humanity got a huge boost from a private citizen. Well, it will someday. Georgia-area housing developer J. Ronald Terwilliger announced a $100 million gift to HH upon his death. He is currently 68. It is the largest individual gift in HH's history, and, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, $70 million will fund micro-loans for work overseas and the remainder will go into a fund to perpetuate the organization's work. 

I've purposely avoided reading about the H1N1 virus (aka Swine Flu) except to read about the symptoms, but I could not avoid a story I heard about in the office on how Egypt's government officials decided to slaughter all the pigs in the country in a misguided attempt to stem the pandemic. It's a little ironic the country that produced one of the most advanced civilizations in history could make such a misstep, but there you go. However, caught up in this silly choice were lots of pig farmers who suddenly lost their livelihood. One was Abu Sayed. He lost his only source of income to feed his extended family of 14 when the government killed his livestock. Hazel and Nazih Zebian, half a world away in Massachusetts and struggling in the economy with their furniture business, decided to help. When they realized it would only cost $1125 to replace the pigs, they sent a Western Union moneygram to help Sayed. Sometimes in this country you forget what wealth really means... (

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